Humanity Rocks

May 4, 2014 at 10:40 am

I have noted how my quasi-parish at Loyola Academy  addresses doctrinal concerns that are specific to the Asian culture.  At first, I did not recognize the reason for the teachings  since I did not yet understand the milieu here.  Here are a few examples from the Easter Sunday bulletin.

There was a column differentiating Resurrection from Resuscitation, Reanimation and Reincarnation.    There are  Hindu holy men here who claim to have been resurrected.  Shridi Sai Baba and another individual named Sai Baba.    I really do not know much about these guys.  (So there is great risk of misrepresentation on my part, but I do not think it is particularly worth the investment time to research. Here is what I know based on hearsay and some reading.)   The former died in the early 20th Century.  I think some say he has been reincarnated and lives in South India (Tamil Nadu).  He is very popular and has quite a following.   I see his picture on many desks at work.   The other Sai Baba claimed to be an avatar or an incarnation of God and had a huge following in the 70’s and 80’s. He claimed to have been Jesus previously;    argued that  the sayings of Jesus were distorted and he knew what Jesus really said.  For example, he stated that Jesus prophesied his coming by pointing at some sheep and saying   “BAAA- BAAA.”  (Seriously?  Mr. Grannan:  I am not making this up.   I read some of his writings that I found in Patrick’s library.)    Poor Baaa-baaa has been shown to be a magician and a pedophile.  ( See BBC you-tube videos on Sai Baba).

It is likely because of such claimsofresurrection or dying and coming back to life like these claims that there is need for this catechesis and why one of the Jesuits talked about resuscitation as a revival of a person from apparent death back to the same earthly life from the pulpit.   Many Eastern forms of spirituality seek to adopt or adapt Jesus in order to draw more followers.  The hidden life of Jesus of provides fertile ground for all kinds of elaborate fiction not unlike Dan Brown’s.  The need for apologetics and catechesis around these definitions must be constant.

In any event, resuscitation is contrasted with the Resurrection of the body by the bulletin which states that “what this new resurrected and immortal body will be is unknown.  It will be radically different from our present physical and mortal bodies.  St Paul compares the continuity but difference by analogizing to seeds and grown plants in his first letter to the Corinthians.”   We confess this belief as part of the Nicene Creed at Sunday Eucharist.   We believe in the Resurrection of the Body as opposed to a subsuming of ourselves into God.

I have to say that my understanding has been sharpened by the contrast to Eastern thought.   At the risk of oversimplifying,  the Hindus are looking for a liberation whereby  the God within us merges with the Atman or Godhead.  Our ego would disappear into God much like a wave on the ocean disappears into the ocean.    As long as we have desire, we are reincarnated.  If ever freed from desire at death, we can escape this world of illusion as our egos disappear.  We are liberated as our ego and identity disappears.  From what I can tell the Buddhists are atheists.  Dalai Lama disputes the notion of a Thomistic first mover.  He asserts that the universe is eternal.    ( We should introduce the Dalai to St Anselm who said that God is that than which nothing greater may be conceived.)

In this context, the revelation and teaching of Jesus takes on new life.  Jesus is the Revealer.  His sayings, parables, prayers reveal a transcendent God who desires intimacy and longs for a relationship with us.  Our existence is grounded in love.  We pray to “Our Father. “   Note also some of the recent readings of this Easter season.  For example, in John 20:  11-18,   after  His Resurrection, Jesus appeared to women firstand affirmed his earthly message that God is his Father and our Fatheras He told the women:

“I am going to my Father and your Father.  My God and Your God.”

In Christ, we stand before the Father as sons and daughters.  Through the Holy Spirit, we experience God’s love.  We are immersed in an experience of love and return love as God’s children. When we act out of who we are called to be and know who we are,  we can be in relationship to one another as brothers and sisters sharing God’s love one with another.  In fact, we are all His children no matter what our creed or if we have no creed.  Stand back and watch God’s love for us expressed through the smiles and laughter people share.  The fun that they have at play.  As John Merrill says   “Humanity Rocks” in God’s love.  We live and move and have our BE-ing in God.

Isn’t this understanding of God at the heart of Judeo-Christian religion?  There is Life after Life. God may be way over our head to grasp, but there is an undeniable intimacy with the Almighty. God cares for us as we care for our children.     Hence, the bulletin highlights that  “Christians believe in the “Resurrection of the Body,” not merely the “Immortality of a (disembodied) Soul! “   There is a reunification of the spirit or soul with a new and immortal resurrected body.   “The main point” the bulletin goes on to say “ is that we will still be ‘some-body’ able to interact in personal relationship with God and with ‘every-body’ else”  after life on this mortal coil.

Each of us was called into being by God.  By becoming who God intends us to be, we reflect a unique aspect of God to one another.  As we recognize God in each other’s goodness, we love each other more and more deeply.  What an eternity we have to enjoy with one another and God.  Gregory of Nyssa would say that we will continue to grow in a perfection of love that has no end, no boundary, but is infinite and eternal.